Non-profit organisation, The National Autistic Society, is urging retailers to be more aware of children with autism. The charity, which works with autistic people and families, believes that retailers could do a lot more to ensure that they are catering for people with autism, including toy stores.
“Retailers, on the whole, could do a lot more than what they are doing at the moment,” Daniel Cadey, autism access development manager at The National Autistic Society, told ToyNews.
“I would say some are not doing enough at the moment but we are starting to see a little more understanding across the UK, with certain stores doing something.”
Retail giant Toys R Us previously offered a quiet hour for autistic children attending stores during November last year, but Cadey feels more could be done on the UK High Street.
According to a survey carried out by the charity of over 7,500 autistic people and their families, shops topped the list of places people most wanted to see become autism-friendly, while only 16 per cent thought that the public actually understand autism in a meaningful way.
Therefore surely more multiples and indies should ensure that they are offering a suitable environment to cater for autistic children?
Dave Carter, co-owner of Arcade Toy Shop, believes so. “We understand the needs of these kids and more retailers need to take time to give some consideration to it,” he explained.
Helen Gourley owner of Scottish independent, Toy Hub, claims that indies can offer a bespoke service to children and families with autism, since they know their customers on a much closer basis.
“We know our customer base, which means if someone comes in and we know that they have an autistic child and they have an issue with noise, then because we know them, we do it without being asked,” Gourley added.
Similarly, Charlotte Croser, owner of Jollys Toys & Games, thinks retailers must put more focus on children with autism.
“With autistic children I am more understanding of how they may find it challenging,” Croser continued. “I know my customers individually and I know to do a little more to help with certain ones.”
With some indies already catering to the needs of autistic children, it’s clear majors and indies still need to ensure that they are offering alternative services to ensure their stores are inclusive to every child.